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How to Find Social Influencers for your Brand

Picture for Rene Looper Rene Looper

October 23rd 2015

There is no definitive way to evaluate Social Media Influence – but it exists and Influencers can be very valuable to your business.

Basically, a social media influencer is someone who has a strong online authority around their topic, is an opinion former and can influence the ideas and behaviours of their followers. In the old days we might call them a columnist for a newspaper or magazine.

Why do we, as businesses, want to engage Influencers? Because as a result of their engagement with social media audiences, they can help your business to:

  • find commercial and financial success on social media
  • build on your reputation and credibility online
  • provide quality affiliations and contacts through social media
  • and, with their charisma and personality help bring you more leads via social media.

There are at least five types of social Influencer, according to socialmediatoday.com:

  • The Networker – someone with a large following, found on a variety of platforms. They know a lot of people and a lot of people know them. This person is charismatic and personable.
  • The Opinion Leader – or Thought Leader, someone who is incredibly knowledgeable about their field, who regularly says new and interesting things that engage people. They tend to have the most comments and shares. This person has strong social credibility.
  • The Trendsetter – this person is one step ahead of the pack, the first to use a new social media platform, are on the lookout for new trends and, as a result, attract other people to them to be kept informed. This person focuses on forward and future thinking.
  • The Sharer – a person who distributes information to bloggers and journalists, they keep up with social content, occasionally participates but does not have a dominant social persona.
  • The User – the everyday customer, the person you are trying to reach also has potential social influence once they become a customer. They don’t have a large network, but they are trusted and, most importantly, their opinion is trusted by their personal network of family, friends and colleagues.

klout-influence-matrixWhen a business decides it wants to harness the power of the social influencer, what they are doing is leveraging the status of that individual to boost their profile and standing in their own industry or sector. It’s not too dissimilar to businesses having particular celebrities advocating for their brand in television commercials – there is a reason why Wriggles Extra Gum have Ashton Kutcher in their current TV commercials as opposed to say Joe Bloggs from the corner shop.

To be a social influencer you need to be in a position to shape and define the conversation you are taking part in, not just being an advocate. So the various beauty vloggers on YouTube don’t just tout products to their audience, they review them in depth, look at all the ways they can use the product, recommend other products that complement the one they are looking at etc etc. They are helpful, trustworthy and authentic. They are not the equivalent of the promo gals and guys at the local shopping centre touting beauty serums and spraying perfume in your face.


So how do you find the right influencer for your business?

Unfortunately it’s not as simple as asking Google: Who are my social influencers? It requires some research, monitoring and engagement. (Possibly my three favourite social media words!)

First Tip – don’t confuse reach with influence. A person might have 100,000 followers reaching upwards of say half a million people, but that doesn’t denote Influence right away. It’s more about how someone engages, interacts and influences other people’s social media activity. So looking at the number of times their content is shared or retweeted is probably a better measure of Social Influence, than the total number of followers they have.

Second Tip – Do what works best for you and remember to be patient. We are talking about developing relationships with PEOPLE here, so think about how you would go about making a new friend – I’m guessing walking up to a stranger in the street and asking to be their friend because you like the fact that they are wearing a mountain bike inspired T-shirt, is more than likely going to result in that stranger running away very, very fast. The same applies to social media.


So to the How To:

  1. Figure out the type of person you want as an influencer for your business. Is it a networker that could bring you more contacts and leads, or an opinion former who can raise your industry credibility on social media? Identify who it is before you start looking for them.
  2. Keywords and Hashtags
    1. Find the right keywords (say up to 3) associated with the types of conversations you want to be a part of, that relate to your industry and that you think an influencer would use.
    2. When you have picked your three keywords, do some further research to find out which other keywords are most commonly used alongside your identified keywords.
    3. Using FollowtheHashtag or Hashtagify you can take the brain work out of finding associated keywords.
  3. Search for people using these keywords. There are a number of free tools you can use to search for the conversations people are having and will help you identify which of these are potential social influencers. Try:
    1. BuzzSumo for a list of content associated with your keyword and the influencers talking about them.
    2. Use Klear to search for people based on your keyword and location.
    3. Try Klout to explore content around your keyword and find experts associated with those topics.
  4. Once you have found this list of people on Buzz Sumo, Klout and Klear, make a shortlist of influencers to research further. In order to convert them to your brand you need to know them well, understand what they talk about, when they talk about it, who they are talking about, which other businesses and brands they are connected too, and the engagement they have with their followers. Try using a selection of tools to create a profile of your shortlisted influencers:
    1. Klout – provides a Klout Score to give you a quick indication of their social influence (the higher the better).
    2. Riffle – at a glance get an overview of their twitter engagement and interaction.
    3. Followerwonk – understand who they follow and who follows them.
    4. TweetReach – work out how far and wide their messages actually go.
    5. HowSociable – a quick overview of their brand magnitude across various different platforms.
  5. Once you have an idea of their potential influence and what they talk about, you need to think about the type of content you could engage them with. Start off by liking and sharing their content. Comment on their posts and blog. Then create some of your own content, or find quality content that you can share, to engage them in a conversation.
  6. Keep informed about your Influencers – the final step is to nurture the relationship, don’t be a flash-in-the-pan friend or the one-night stand, we want you to go for the long-haul committed relationship. (Sorry, commitment-phobes, this is probably not the social marketing approach for you). Make sure you regularly check up on what your influencer is saying and engage with them.
    1. Use lists on Facebook and Twitter to segment your Influencers from the other people you follow.
    2. Set up Twilert to send you up to the minute alerts on your social influencer’s posts.
    3. Set up a Google Alert for up to date alerts on all off their online activity.


Final Tip – when you engage a social influencer, and you feel you have developed your relationship to the point where you feel comfortable asking them to do something for you (i.e. share a post, take part in an event, write a guest blog etc). Ask them directly, ask them clearly and don’t beat around the bush. Tell them precisely what you are offering and what you want from them.


Social Influencers can make a big difference to your business, as long as you know who you want to attract and why you want to attract them.


For more information on Social Media Influencers read our Blog Post from Lara.


Thank you to these wonderful Bloggers for helping me research this post.

Pixlee Blog



Hootsuite Blog

Betti Blue

Social Media Today

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